The pain of pretense
The following is an excerpt from The Five Keys to Fullness of Life, now available for Kindle!
I hope you like it.
From The Five Keys to Fullness of Life…
Those of us who fear making mistakes also fear being ourselves. We don’t want to get it wrong. All those possibilities we feel, the impulses we were taught to ignore, repress, reject — they seem like unnecessary risk.
The hard-to-grasp secret is that you only get being yourself wrong when you’re not doing it. Because being yourself is the most natural thing in the world. The alternative — the only alternative — is to be something you’re not. For a moment. With certain people. Under certain circumstances. Maybe all the time.
So, when you’re not being yourself, you necessarily have to be something you’re not. And that’s a hard place to be, because it closes the door on the nourishment of connection. You can’t connect as someone you’re not. You have to be yourself to connect.
And that nourishment of connection is the heart of your sense of safety. You do not feel safe in a vacuum, in a state of disconnection. And that is what not being you is, a vacuum, a state of disconnection. No, real safety is only found in connection. The web of interpersonal exchange is also a safety net. A reminder that the universe has your back. A manifestation of that back-having. And all the work of evolving your sense of self is geared toward this.
With a true sense of self you will recognize and move toward that which is really you. As part of this natural motion, you will draw connection to yourself as you create the context most conducive to being yourself in the world. As you extend, the right people will appear. The right situations. And with them the connection you need to draw nourishment from your human family.
That is the true power of being yourself. It comes from the sustenance you draw from being connected to people by the real bonds of love and trust that result from your availability to the world. Love and trust flow in and out of your being through the touch-points you share with others.
This is the reciprocation of the love you put into the world, and it completes the circuit of God-ness. Divine love flows through you into the world and back again. When you are not yourself you are cut off from that circulation.
The inevitable result is an underlying harshness in your experience, a general lack of confidence, and the abiding sense that something is about to go wrong.
You may think it necessary to be something you’re not because that connection to the pulse of life found through real relationships seems hard to come by. And it is. Because very few people you meet each day are fully being themselves. To some degree we are all pretending. As you grow in selfhood you will see this more clearly.
When your walls come down and you step into view, you will notice the walls all around you, maintained by others. You will realize that the isolation you felt before was actually caused, in part, by the isolation everyone feels, imposed on us by the fear of failing at who we are. This fear shows up in the moment, each time you have a chance to exercise a talent, to express an idea, to reveal a feeling. It shows up each time you have a chance to be yourself.
The fear of failure actually increases the odds that you will experience it. And it intensifies the pain of the experience. It’s like hesitating on the high dive when you’re nine and there’s a line of kids waiting their turn behind you, yelling at you to jump. Holding back can lead to a brutal belly flop. But it’s a freaking long way down. So, yeah, you hesitate, okay? What, you’d step off without even thinking about it? Jeez, I was only nine.
The potential for pain can keep you from experiencing who you really are. And it can leave you cut off from your own potential. Forced to reject or deny your dreams and feelings, and even your needs. And that is itself a brutal form of pain.